2008 was a bit of a bust game development wise, but I knew at the start of the year that that would be the case. The most important goal of 2008 was to finish my postgraduate study, and for all intents and purposes that was the case. There is a teensy bit of clean-up work and administration to do this month, but other than that I am effectively a free agent.
2009 presents a unique opportunity for me to consider chasing my game development dreams. I am more grounded than I was fresh out of my undergraduate course. My postgraduate study had a significant amount of entrepreneurial courses that I took advantage of. I don't have any debt, don't have any dependants, and I have been living the student life for some time now; my life style expenses are exceedingly low. Over the last several years I have been saving up a large proportion of the money I have got from part time jobs and my scholarship, enough to keep me going for quite some time. Ignoring all the global financial doom and gloom I can't think of a better time for me to go into business.
Of course there are risks involved, however they are worth taking. As long as I have the foresight to bail out before completely broke, the worst that can happen is that I spend a year or two losing a fair chunk of my life savings and having to find another, possibly not fantastic job. But that's not too bad a price to wager, given that if things go well I could be living my ultimate dream. Win or lose I will learn heaps in the process, become more self reliant and be better able to cope with business in general, as self-employed, employee or boss. And there's the price for if I don't take this opportunity; I might always be haunted by letting this chance slip away.
As a consequence, my 2009 goals will be a lot more ambitious than last years. Specifically, the game development goals I wish to reach by the end of the year are:
- To have at least one game for sale.
- To be in good stead for a successful business year in 2010 and beyond
The first goal is my main milestone objective: it's pretty easy to put a tick or a cross to that one. The second goal is needed to keep the first in check. It's too easy to put a game out for sale, then get disappointed by the inevitable poor sales and quit the business. While I would be chuffed to be an overnight success with my first game, realistically it will take several games before I can make a game business sustainable. I'm aiming for the long term.
In order to achieve this, there are a bunch of other smaller significant goals I need to achieve.
- Get fit: I'm working on this. I'm not especially overweight, but I am fairly unfit and I don't want any health issues from improper care of myself. I'm not going to do anything too drastic, but I'll build up a healthier lifestyle over time. I've got a distance exercise bike that I've been using over the last couple of weeks, increasing the distance each day. I'll be a bit more conscious about what I eat, and I'll work in some more exercises during the day. I don't expect fast results, but if I stick to a routine I think in a few months I'll feel a lot healthier.
- Get organised: I'm working on this too. I'm giving myself a bit of settling in time to try some different organisational techniques, but by February I hope to have a routine sorted out. Again, I think the mere act of monitoring what I'm doing will help here.
- Build a new website: I've got a blog over at trazoi.net, but for a business ventue I'll need a solid web front. I'll launch this sometime in Q1.
- Continue working on my skills. In all areas. I might hunt for freelancers in art or music to help me later in development, but even then I'll need good placeholders. Part of the whole appeal of indie games for me is gaining skills in a wide variety of creative areas, so I'll use this opportunity for some serious skill improvement.
- Budgeting: Accounting and budgeting isn't my strong point, so it's a skill I need to learn fast.
- Develop and implement a marketing plan: This is the number one area that I think indies neglect to their detriment. I've got this flagged as one of the most important things to learn in 2009.
- Launch a business: This will by necessity wait until just before I've got something to sell. I don't think the actual act of launching a business is that hard, but it does involve a bit of legality I'll need sorted out.
There's still a large amount of unknowns here. I've never tried something like this before. But I figure the best approach is to give it my best shot, see what works and what doesn't, learn from my mistakes and adjust accordingly. As long as I'm not silly and place all my bets on a single risky venture I think I'm in with a good chance of finding my niche.